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    Mar 6th, 2008 at 03:21:52     -    Lost Odyssey (360)

    Design 2 (15 hours in):
    After 15 hours, the gameplay has not progressed much. Now that I have more than 5 people, I have to decide who to keep in my team and level up, and who to leave on the sidelines. This means balancing by switching characters in and out regularly and making sure no character gets too much attention. I feel like this interactivity is the kind of interactivity I don't wan to deal with though. They never explain why the whole team wouldn't be fighting, and having to switch characters out gives unnecessary responsibilty to characters without producing any incentive. Usually when you make a player commit an arduous task, you reward them with a new weapon. Instead of using positive reinforcement, they give a kind of passive aggressive punishment for not utilizing all of my characters. Fortunately a low level character levels up faster when fighting high level enemies, so playing catch-up is not too big of a deal.
    Gameplay 2:
    Despite the minor failures, I'm enjoying a classic RPG throw-back and a much needed game for the 360. I've been waiting for a good role playing game on my xbox, and I enjoy the simplicity that the game provides. The game does not demand too much interactivity, and I can play this like a popcorn game: sit back and watch the pretty aesthetics that 360 provides. Many have criticized the game for lacking innovation, but it's been too long since a decent turn-based RPG was released. Where the game fails in melodramatic minutia, and unnecessary tasks, it succeeds in letting the player skip cut scenes and making characters serve individual purposes so no single character is totally forgettable. The controls are easy and the graphics are great.

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    Mar 6th, 2008 at 03:21:25     -    Lost Odyssey (360)

    Summary:
    Lost Odyssey is a recently released classic RPG from the creator of Final Fantasy. There has been a lot of hype surrounding the game's release and I am excited to see the result. The game follows Kiam Argonar: an immortal being that has suspiciously lost the thousand years of his memory. Kiam is a war-torn general who is sent to investigate a magical disturbance at “Grandstaff.” Grandstaff is the pinnacle achievement of his nation (Uhra is the name of his nation), and has recently been leaking magical energy. From there Kiam discovers that the man who sent him to Grandstaff is actually the head of a diabolical plot to rule the world.
    Gameplay (5 hours into the game):
    That last sentence being said, the game does not cover much new ground in the story or gameplay department. The core game mechanic is almost identical to all other turn based role playing games. Basically, select attack, magic, or skills and equip the right accessories for the given element of the land you are in. Fortunately I enjoy classic turn-based role playing games, and I knew what to expect when I bought the game.
    The story line is very generic and melodramatic so far. There have been a lot of cut scenes that revolve around Kiam being a hard-ass but still being very in touch with his feelings. I have run into two kids that turned out to be Kiam's grandchildren. After thirty minutes I meet their mother (Kiam's daughter who he has a single memory of.) and within two minutes of meeting her she dies. Of course being a classic Japanese RPG, Kiam is overrun with grief for the daughter he doesn't remember. I was expecting a sappy story when I bought Lost Odyssey, thinking that the melodrama in the game was part of the charm, but having four discs on an Xbox 360 game and skipping cinematics on the first disc is kind of ominous.

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    Feb 21st, 2008 at 03:17:20     -    Final Fantasy XII (PS2)

    Final Fantasy 12

    Gameplay 2:

    The next hour has shown me a good deal about how the game will progress. I have naturally been leveling up by killing beasts in the desert adjacent to Vaan's hometown of "Rabanastre." First, however, I was introduced to the bounty system in the game. Vaan has recently become a mercenary, and is taking jobs from the local tavern to kill specified enemies in the desert, and probably other areas. This other dimension of gameplay is really appealing as it progresses a story, even as they pointlessly murder hundreds of monsters for hours on end. Now, instead of running in circles around a save-point waiting for random battles to occur, like I would in a classic turn-based RPG, I can actively pursue a target and achieve a goal while I kill monsters along the way.

    Another interesting feature to Final Fantasy 12 that I have noticed is the fact that even two hours into the game I don't have a party. Classically fights are won by assigning one party member to be the healer, another to be a fighting magician, and your main character to be close range fighter. In Final Fantasy 12 I am acting as all three at the moment, and I am forced to tread carefully, as I have a very limited supply of health, magic, and especially money as this is still an introductory sequence to the overall game.

    While fighting I have to keep an eye on my "action gauge," health, and perimeter of oncoming enemies. It is easy to lose if you are fighting more than one enemy at a time, so it is important to time my attacks in such a way that I attack a reasonable amount of enemies at once. The "action gauge" tells me when I am able to attack again, and resets once I have finished attacking. These different gameplay features allow me to improve my character's aspects in more ways than just strength and health, like expedited gauge regeneration and attack radius. This also allows for wide array of items and power-ups.

    Design:

    An interesting, and infrequent design feature to the game is the addition of a "license" system. I earn LP's (I think it stands for learning points?) from battles, and after a given number of LP's I am able to purchase new licenses. Each license lets me wield a different weapon, or cast a different spell. These items are sold at local magic or weapons shops, and can be fairly costly. This feature seems frustrating, however. I have very limited choices of which licenses to purchase, and therefore it can be very difficult to find the weapon or magic that I am looking for. For example; After killing my first bounty, I received a shield. But I cannot use the shield because I don't have a license for it, and It may be another 50 fights before I find the correct license to purchase. This feature is indeed different, but so far it has caused me nothing but grief.

    On another note, the game is seemingly very story driven. If the myriad of cinematic sequences didn't clue me in, it was the introduction of at least ten characters, that I will probably form some kind of attachment with. If used in moderation, this heavily story-based game will give me more and more incentive to play the game for the thirty or fifty hours that it will demand. If they reduce the rate at which cut-scenes interject into my gameplay, this feature should add a lot of depth and intrigue to my experience.

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    Feb 21st, 2008 at 02:30:22     -    Final Fantasy XII (PS2)

    Final Fantasy 12

    Summary:
    Final Fantasy 12 is the latest installment in the Final Fantasy series. It is in an entirely new universe, as Final Fantasy games usually are, and the story, consequently, follows a "new" plot. The reason I put the word "new" in apostrophes is that the word new in this situation is a relative term. The main character, Vaan, is a run-of-the-mill street urchin striving to be an air-pirate. Fortunately, I like air pirates, and the story has been proven to work in other games like Skies of Arcadia (My favorite RPG), or Rogue Galaxy.

    Gameplay:
    So far the beginning of the game has been varied. I played as two different characters before reaching the main character Vaan. It seems as though they have replaced a tutorial mode on the combat system with an intro sequence revolving around a random character in war taking place between two countries. The intro sequence also added an interesting twist to introducing the villain. I had no idea that the character i was playing as was going to dye, and by murdering my player, and backstabbing my team, I was caught off guard and I already started to dislike the villain for killing me.
    The battle system is also not what I was expecting. This is the fourth Final Fantasy game I've played and I was expecting another turn based classic rpg (the other titles I played were Final Fantasy 3, 5, and 7). I haven't made up my mind yet as to whether or not I like the fighting mechanics, but the lack of loading times is definitely a plus. The lack of load times keeps the game fresh and allows for an expedited leveling up system. Usually when I play RPG's the first order of business once I'm not too constrained by progressing the story is to level up for a long time, and removing load times between battles can hopefully let me level up faster.
    Unfortunately after the first hour I haven't been given much of an opportunity to move as I please due to multiple cinematics which are lengthy. The cinematics are pretty, however I am a little frustrated with the lack of freedom the introductory hour has given me. I am also bothered that the creators have decided once again to give me an androgynous main character. For some reason I find it hard to take Vaan seriously when I can see his full mid-drift and a large portion of his waxed chest.

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    Chris Carlsson has been with GameLog for 13 years, 8 months, and 7 days
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    1Final Fantasy XII (PS2)Playing
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